Kudos to you for taking on a task that’s often not a man’s job
aruch Hashem I have three daughters. All are now in shidduchim. For reasons that aren’t pertinent to this question, their mother is not involved in their shidduchim. As a father, I’m struggling to help them.
In our yeshivish world, the mother is the one who advocates on her daughters’ behalf, who makes calls, goes to meetings, participates in chats, approaches shadchanim at a chasunah. It’s a woman’s world.
Without a mother, my girls are on their own. I try to get involved in the process, but I’m made to feel like an unwelcome interloper. I call shadchanim, but at best I’m told they’re “keeping them in mind.” At worst I’m made to feel like I’m interfering in a woman’s world. What can I do? What resources are out there for fathers? I’m lost.
Alone in This Together With My Girls
Dear Alone and Together,
I love the way you signed your letter; it encapsulates the deep feelings your dilemma evokes. I hope your daughters feel this as poignantly as you express it.
As in any other family challenge, it’s always more manageable when a husband and wife have each other to lean on. Nisyonos are exponentially more painful when you tread through them alone. And, of course, your deep connection with your girls makes it all the more difficult because you bear their hurt as well. Kudos to you for taking on a task that’s often not a man’s job.
I say “often” because, while it’s true that women usually head the shidduchim department, that’s not always the case. In many families, the division of labor has more to do with job-specific skills and less to do with predetermined roles. And sometimes it’s just about time — who is more available?
Some men are better at networking because of their personalities or simply because they see other men on a daily basis (at shul, etc.) and through that have more access to at least the male shadchanim. And, of course, fathers are often asked to make the calls to roshei yeshivah and maggidei shiur because women aren’t comfortable making those calls.
I’m so sorry you’re being made to feel bad as you make these calls and connections. I don’t know if it is any comfort for you to know that many women report feeling the same way when they speak to shadchanim.
This may have more to do with the fact that you’re calling about girls than about the fact that you’re a man. It’s an unfortunate reality that most meetings with shadchanim end with little more than a cursory “I’ll keep them in mind.” Given the volume of requests they get, they can’t really promise more than that. The onus is then on the parent to follow up.
You mention that their mother’s absence isn’t pertinent to this question, but I’d like to revisit that assumption. Without knowing what people have said to you, it’s hard to comment directly, so please forgive any inaccurate assumptions on my part. But I wonder if you have the liberty of being somewhat straightforward when you speak to shadchanim, thereby eliminating the question of why you are the one making this call.
Sometimes, in our quest to be diplomatic, we come off sounding cagey. And then instinctively people take a step back or react defensively. It seems like you’re struggling with this particular reality, and it’s possible you’re giving off an uncomfortable vibe. I hate saying that because it sounds like I’m blaming, but I’m actually asking you to take a step back and question whether you’re contributing in any way to the discomfort, because the only thing you can change is your part. Another way for the process to be more natural is to for you to use already existing connections. If you call people who are your connections, it won’t seem strange that you’re the one making the call.
The other way to approach this is to brainstorm for ways to problem-solve. Are you aware of any other men in this situation — widowers, divorcés, or simply fathers in general who have taken on this role? Can you speak to them and get some tips?
I wonder if some of them will tell you it’s been a nonissue for them. Often, when we give off an air of confidence and “normal,” people respond in kind. I also invite our MatchQuest readers to respond.
Finally, if you feel that this simply must be done by a woman, please canvass the women in your family’s support circle. Is there a neighbor, relative, friend, or rebbetzin, who would be willing to step in and make these calls for you? It’s good to ask for help when you need it.
May Hashem look upon the love you have for your girls, hear your tefillos, and answer you all b’karov!
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 686)
Oops! We could not locate your form.